In your community, you might celebrate American Independence Day on the weekend closest to the 4th of July. In Exeter, NH, it is celebrated on the weekend closest to the date New Hampshire’s Declaration of Independence copy arrived in our Revolutionary-era capital… July 16, 1776. Exeter is fortunate to have that first official copy of the Declaration of Independence, one of only 26 known copies that survive out of about 150 copies printed. It is annually on display during the Festival in the American Independence Museum and, yes, we did wait in line to see it and other rare documents such as handwritten letters by George Washington. Exeter’s American Independence Festival is the biggest celebration of the year. The Declaration of Independence arrives on horseback and is read to the public by a descendant of the original reader. Next door to the museum is an artisans’ village with the cooper, the potter, the gunsmith, the cobbler, the basket weaver, milliners, spinners, the blacksmith, and more.
I have watched master potter Steve Zoldak at Strawbery Banke and actually own some of his wares. It was fun to watch him create more masterpieces.
Children got into the act everywhere you looked. From music to scavenger hunts and crafts, costumes to junior militia recruitment, the youngsters were involved and entertained. Click to enlarge photos.
Historic Folsom Tavern, c. 1775, was open for the public to tour, watch demonstrations, and for those who chose to imbibe, could enjoy a sudsy brew in the very room that George Washington once savored a breakfast. Click to enlarge photos.
We ended the day with hundreds of other visitors on Swasey Parkway watching battle re-enactments with lots of gunfire and cannon booms. Click to enlarge photos.
Later that afternoon we decided to call it a day and trudged home but not before we bought ‘fried dough’ from one of several vendors that lined the street. Delicious but not nutritious, I’m sure. Although live music and fireworks rocked the night away, we were a little like the lady we spotted in the tent below…. tuckered out and fast asleep from our big adventure.